Outgoing Carnegie Mellon President Jared Cohon sent out a message to CMU alumni/community yesterday afternoon revealing his rather middle-of-the-road, Solomon-esque decision on the anti-pope nudity incident at the Carnival last month. His good yet easily predictable decision: the “Pope Girl” and her male accomplice will face misdemeanor indecent exposure charges from the Allegheny County courts for exposing cross-shaped pubic hairs in their public-mockery-of-Carnival campus march on April 18. But they will face no further disciplinary action from CMU, as what they did fell well within their rights of freedom of expression.
I’m sure the majority of my fellow yet rather conservative CMU alums will take some affront to this decision, but too bad for them. If you can’t hand out condoms while mocking the pope and buggy races with your butt and vagina hairs exposed as an undergrad, then when, pray tell, do you ever plan to break free?
I’m sure this was a difficult decision for President Cohon. He’s got one foot off the campus toward retirement while making a decision that could cost CMU some donors. But as Cohon approaches his last weeks on the job, he’s also likely gained a few new donors for the university, at least of the current generation of CMU students. I will never likely be one of them.
Still, I do look forward to future CMU controversies over students and their freedom of speech and expression. It’s a welcome change from discussions of the silent Republican majority, robotics and military contracts, and alumni who were my age before I was born in ’69.
It’s funny though. Today marks nineteen years since I finished all of my coursework for my CMU History PhD. I thought that was exciting stuff then. Some things are changing for the better.